US airlines perform better in April 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008, 7:18 by Aviation Correspondent

The operational performance of airlines in the United States got better in April 2008. In April 2008, United States-based airlines cancelled 1.7% of their scheduled domestic flights, which is lower than the cancellation of 1.8% in April 2007 and 2.6% in March 2008.

Overall, the on-time statistics for April 2008 for all US airlines were better than both for March 2008 and April 2007.

The monthly data released by the United States Department of Transportation says that the 19 largest carriers in the US reported that 77.7% of their flights arrived on time, or within 15 minutes of schedule. This marks a considerable  progress from March 2008, when only 71.6% of flights had operated on schedule.

US federal transportation officials have announced various measures to curb delays in 2008, including capping flights in the New York area.

The US Department of Transportation’s data says that there has been improvement in the areas of flight cancellation and mishandled baggage.

The rate of mishandled baggage by carriers in the United States was 4.99 reports per 1,000 passengers in April 2008, while it was 6.34 reports per 1,000 passengers in April 2007, and 6.66 reports per 1,000 passengers March 2007.

Among the major carriers, Southwest Airlines Company, the low-cost airline based in Dallas, Texas, came first – and third overall – with 83.3% on-time.

For the second successive month, American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, finished last among airlines in the United States in on-time arrivals – with over a third of its flights arriving at least 15 minutes late in April 2008.

American Airlines, however, improved from March 2008 even though it stood behind the 18 other airlines that report their performance to the US Department of Transportation.

The on-time figure for American Airlines in April 2008 was 65.3%, which is an improvement of 3.3 percentage points from March 2008.

A spokesman for American Airlines was quoted by the American media as saying that the airline’s April 2008 results were considerably affected by its cancellation of 3,300 flights for safety inspections and that those cancelled flights were counted as delays.

American Eagle, the regional partner of American Airlines, finished 16th overall, with 74.4% on-time – performing better than Mesa Airlines, United Airlines and  American Airlines.

According to the Department of Transportation, of the 15 regularly scheduled US flights that were late at least 80% of the time in April 2008, American Airlines operated 11.

JetBlue Airways Corporation reported the fewest missing-bag reports – at 3.00 per 1,000 passengers – while American Eagle reported the most, at 10.45 per 1,000 passengers.

On the subject of customers involuntarily bumped from their flight, airlines denied boarding to 1.36 passengers per 10,000 in the first quarter of 2008 –down from 1.46 a year earlier. In this regard, JetBlue’s rate was the best at 0.02 passengers per 10,000 passengers. Atlantic Southeast Airlines finished worst with 5.22 per 10,000 passengers.

In April 2008, US airlines received 1.36 complaints per 100,000 passengers – which is lower than 1.65 in April 2007. In the department of complaints, Southwest Airlines had the lowest rate (0.35 complaints per 100,000 passengers). United Airlines ranked worst – with 2.55 complaints per 100,000 passengers.

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